WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 27-28 : 03.07.-16.07.2005

original french

SADR

06.07.05
The President of the Saharawi Republic sends an open letter to the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI, in which he asks him to stop the repression against the Saharawis in Western Sahara and to act wisely to promote a peaceful solution to the conflict based on respect for the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence.[
Open letter] [Lettre ouverte] [Carta abierta]

11.07.05
SADR opens an embassy in Zambia. (SPS)

14.07.05, Declarations of Mohamed Abdelaziz
"We have decided to settle as quickly as possible the problem of the Moroccan prisoners who we are still holding. We must bring it to an end and work towards their release. We will inform the ICRC [the International Committee of the Red Cross] and arrange with them the technical details of their release", declares Mohamed Abdelaziz to the French daily, Le Monde. In this interview the leader of the Polisario also affirms that the protests in the occupied territories will continue "until the organisation of a referendum of self-determination". On the subject of the EU-Moroccan fishing agreement, he warned that if this takes in the coast of Western Sahara, "we will see it as a declaration of war" and the Saharawis would refer to international jurisdictions. He finally recalled, with the EU in mind, the position of the United States who excluded the Western Sahara from their free trade agreement with Morocco. [
Le Monde 15.07.05]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

04.07.05, Letter to Javier Solana
The Minister-delegate for Europe, Mohamed Sidati, asks the European Union to intervene to make Morocco put an end to the repression against defenceless Saharawi populations in the occupied territories, to liberate the detainees and inquire into the recent events. [[
Letter] Lettre] [Carta]

04.07.05, El Ayoun
Arrest of a Saharawi singer, M'Barek Maainiya, whose songs glorified the actions of last May's rebels. (SPS)

04-05.07.05, El Ayoun
A Norwegian delegation, led by Arne Lynngård, president of the Rafto Foundation, made up of Eva Kristin Hansen, member of the National Executive of the Social Democrat Party of Norway (Arbeiderpartiet) and a parliamentary candidate, Kristian Tangen, member of the management of Fagforbundet, the main Norwegian trades union, Rolf Wermundsen and Ronny Hansen, members of the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, arrived in El Ayoun to attend as observers the trial of 16 Saharawis arrested during the demonstrations last month, due to take place on 5 July.
A human rights defender, Latif Allal, who had escorted the group in his personal car, was abducted by the police, interrogated for 10 hours and tortured. He was released at 3.30am the next morning after refusing to sign the police report. [
testimony] [témoignage] [testigo]
Simultaneously, the delegation was informed that it was not welcome and summoned to leave the territory immediately. Following its refusal to comply, the delegation was obliged by the police to leave the hotel and taken under escort by car in the middle of the night to Agadir.

The trial of 15 young Saharawis was adjourned by a week following a protest by the defence lawyers, denouncing irregularities in procedure. A sixteenth detainee, Hammou Rahali, prisoner number 26142, was hospitalised in Marrakech as a result of bad treatment he suffered. Two Spanish lawyers, appointed by the Spanish Bar, and two observers of the Moroccan HR NGO AMDH, attended the trial. [more]

05.07.05
In its annual report the AMDH (Moroccan Association of Human Rights), considers that after the pardon granted in January 2004 to 33 political prisoners, there are at present again 31 people sentenced for political or ideological motives in Moroccan prisons, to which must be added the young Saharawis arrested during the demonstrations of May-June, which this NGO describes as "political prisoners".

06.07.05, Embarkation forbidden
The Spanish airline company Top Fly forbids the embarkation of a delegation from Aragon, who wished to travel from the Canary Islands to Western Sahara on an observer mission. The delegation included parliamentarians and members of the solidarity association Um Draiga. The Moroccan authorities communicate to the company that they will not let the plane land. At this point, the company simple cancels the flight.

11.07.05, El Ayoun
Hamad Hmad, former political detainee, human rights activist, born in 1960, being hunted by police, takes refuge in the former Spanish Cultural Centre in El Ayoun, la Casa d'Espana, and asks for the protection of Spain. He is dislodged two and a half hours later by about 15 plainclothes policemen, who enter the building despite the protests of the Spanish person in charge and while the Spanish authorities were negotiating with the Moroccan authorities. He is set free provisionally 48 hours later after long interrogations.

Hamad Hmad used his spectacular action to make known the following demands: the release of political prisoners in the Black Prison of El Ayoun, the protection of Saharawi human rights activists, bringing to justice of those responsible for violence, the withdrawal of the Moroccan army from the streets of El Ayoun, an international inquiry.
In 1990 Hammad Hmad requested political asylum from the Spanish Embassy in Rabat. He was handed over to the Moroccan authorities. In 1997 he was abducted by the secret services, tortured and held in the prison known as PC-CMI in El Ayoun for 12 days then deprived of his job and his possessions in 2002. Tortured on 17 June for having driven injured activists to hospital. [
More]

12.07.05, Judgments &endash; heavy sentences
The Tribunal of El Ayoun pronounces four sentences of 8 years in prison, two of 6 years, one of 4 years and two of 2 years, as well as 3 suspended sentences of 2 years. Three prisoners are acquitted of whom one remains in prison... The charges are the same for all, "violence against officials in the exercise of their duties, use of firearms and damage to private property". [
more]

13.07.05, 6th expulsion
A delegation from the Basque Country, consisting of 27 people, including members of the autonomous government, parliamentarians from all parties, etc. is not authorised to leave the aircraft which had brought them from Las Palmas to El Ayoun.

14.07.05, Arrest
A Saharawi human rights activist, Brahim Sabbar, former political detainee (survivor of the secret prison of Kalaat M'Gouna), secretary general of the Saharawi Association of victims of serious human rights abuses committed by the Moroccan state, founded last May, was abducted by the police and set free after some hours in detention in the central police station and in the criminal investigation department's building.

International Campaign for the liberation of AMINATOU HAIDAR and of all Saharawi political prisoners
Campagne internationale pour la libération de AMINATOU HAIDAR et de tous les prisonniers politiques sahraouis
Campaña internacional para la liberación de AMINATU HAIDAR y de todos los presos politicos saharauis

See special updated page

07.07.05
178 Members of the European Parlament support the International Campaign for the liberation of AMINATOU HAIDAR and of all Saharawi political prisoners [
list]

Other declarations of solidarity and support for the Saharawi political prisoners:
In Spain: Municipality of Avila,
Badía Vallés (Catalonia), a town twinned with the daira of Boujdour in the refugee camp of Dakhla, Málaga, Santa Lucía de Tirajana (Gran Canaria). Declaración de las Juvetudes socialistas de España,29.06.05.
In Italy: the Party of Democracy and Liberty - La Margherita (D.L. La Margherita).
In Denmark: the Danish Youth Organisation (Socialistisk Ungdoms).

14.07.05,
In response to the question of Mr Rune Lund (Red-Green Alliance), the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs declares that "the question [of respect of human rights in the territories occupied by Morocco] will be treated at the level of the European Union to examine possible ways of putting pressure on Morocco".(SPS)

On 9 July, demonstrations in Seville and Santa Cruz de Ténérife bring out several thousand people calling on the Spanish government to put pressure on Morocco to hold a referendum of self-determination and demanding the respect of human rights in Western Sahara.

13.07.05
The Spanish daily ABC reports the remarks of Aminatou Haidar from the depths of the Black Prison.[Aminatu Haidar: «Me han sometido a todo tipo de tratos inhumanos», Luis de Vega,
ABC, 13.07.05] [translation to english] Aminatu Haidar : "They exercised on me all sorts of inhuman ill-treatments"] [traduction en français: Aminatu Haidar : "Ils m'ont fait subir toutes sortes de traitements inhumains" ]

REFERENDUM

02.07.05, African Union
The Executive Council of the African Union, meeting in Syrte in Libya, in its report expresses its concern at the deadlock in the implementation process of the United Nations peace plan aiming to allow the people of Western Sahara to exercise its right to self-determination.

06.07.05, order of Spanish lawyers
The permanent committee of the General Council of the order of Spanish Lawyers (CGAE) asks the Spanish government and the United Nations to guarantee the implementation of international law in the question of the Sahara as well as the presence of international observers.

06.07.05, British parliament
An Early Day Motion,
EDM 515 , has been laid down in the British Parliament with the following wording: «That this House notes with concern recent reports of demonstrations and arrests in the occupied territory of the Western Sahara, while noting with particular concern credible reports of disappearances and torture of Saharawi students, activists and human rights workers by Moroccan security forces; calls on the Government publicly to condemn these actions by Morocco immediately, to insist that MINURSO investigate and report on the recent turmoil, and to reinvigorate its and UN efforts to find a solution to the Western Sahara dispute; further calls on the Government, under the UK's responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to propose at the UN Security Council a deadline for Morocco to accept the so-called Baker Plan, which was fully endorsed by the Security Council in 2003 (resolution number 1495 (2003)) and which has since been rejected by Morocco, because this plan represents the last best chance for a diplomatic settlement, and has been accepted by the Polisario front, representatives of the Sararawi people; and further calls on the Government to act to implement the plan and not to allow Morocco to evade its obligations under international law. » At present 24 MPs have signed.

MOROCCO

02.07.05, mock trial
Rabat: mock trial brought by AMDH and the Forum for Truth and Justice against those responsible for human rights abuses. Mohamed Elmoutaouakil, in his deposition confirms that human rights abuses are being perpetrated in Western Sahara, whose the authors are congratulated instead of being pursued by justice. Elmoutaouakil talks in the same vein on Al Jazeera on 04.07.

12.07.05
The French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Philippe Douste-Blazy carries out his first working visit to Morocco. Concerning the question of Western Sahara, Mr Douste-Blazy argues for a "mutually acceptable political solution", through a "direct dialogue between Rabat and Algiers, under the aegis of the United Nations". "Algeria in its relations with its brothers has no need for a guardian. We can talk with them directly. And nothing is stopping us from consulting each other", replied Abdelaziz Belkhadem, Algerian Minister of State, personal representative of the President of the Republic.

14.07.05
The Moroccan authorities have put in place a strategy "to inform international opinion on the situation in our southern provinces". Visits of representatives of political parties are foreseen from 17 to 28 July to Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. Other visits will take place shortly in Europe and certain African countries. A permanent Commission within the Ministry of the Interior has been put in place to deal with questions arising from the development of the region. (Libération, Casablanca)

SPAIN

04.07.05
In a written reply to a question from an MP, the Spanish government considers that "Since 1975 Morocco has been the de facto administrative power of the territory of Western Sahara".

05.07.05
The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs declares on the Spanish radio station "Onda Cero", taken up by Europa Press, that his country defends the "right of the Saharawi people to self-determination". (SPS)

06.07.05
The Spanish parliament has "postponed" the visit that a parliamentary delegation was supposed to conduct in El Ayoun, considering the guarantees given by the Moroccan authorities to be insufficient concerning the freedom of movement of the delegation. [
El Mundo]

09.07.05
In the annual inquiry carried out between 11 and 23 June 2005 by the Real Instituto Elcano on 1,209 people throughout Spain, 72% of people questioned say they are in favour of independence for the Saharawi people, while 16% express themselves in favour of autonomy under Moroccan control. [
Barómetro del Real Instituto Elcano]

 VISIT OF ABDELAZIZ TO SPAIN

11.07.05
Mohamed Abdelaziz had talks in Madrid with the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos. He is also received by the former president of the Spanish government, José Maria Aznar, PP, who accepts an invitation to visit the Saharawi refugee camps in the near future and probably the liberated territories of SADR. The Popular Party's secretary for International Relations, Jorge Moragas, then declares to the media that the territory of the former Spanish colony should be administered by the United Nations.
In a statement to ABC, the Saharawi president calls on Spain to play a major role in the conflict in Western Sahara. He adds that "the silence of the UN faced with Moroccan barbarity and brutality bury the remnants of credibillity which remained with it in this area". [see Spanish medias in
Sahara-Info]

12.07.05, Madrid
Invited to the "Forum Europe", organised by Nueva Economía Fórum, the Saharawi president declares that the revolt going on at the present time in the occupied territories of Western Sahara put into relief "the urgency of a just and lasting solution" to a conflict which has gone on for 30 years, without which the action and reaction will degenerate into a blood bath". Talking of the role of Spain, Mohamed Abdelaziz does not hide his dissatisfaction with the position of the (Spanish) government and the Socialist Party. "Spain and other countries, following France, have got involved in a deliberately counter-productive policy on Western Sahara and North Africa", he underlined, adding that the only "viable" solution for the conflict in Western Sahara is the referendum of self-determination. [
Full statement] [Texte intégral de la conférence de Mohamed Abdelaziz au FORUM EUROPE] [Texto entero de la ponencia de Mohamed Abdelaziz en el Forum Europa]

13.07.05
An "observatory of studies on Western Sahara" is created in the King Juan Carlos University (Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid), directed by a professor of constitutional law from the University of Santiago de Compostella, Carlos Ruiz Miguel. His aim is to study the question of Western Sahara in the light of international law . (SPS)

Socialistas españoles por el Sáhara
Members of the Spanish socialist Party PSOE lpublish a manifesto for Western Sahara and collect signatures on the web:
http://www.socialistasprosahara.galeon.com

EUROPEAN UNION

06.07.05, fishing agreement
The EU is shortly going to negotiate a fishing agreement with Morocco. Karin Scheele, in the name of the parliamentary intergroup, Peace for the Saharawi people, sends a letter to the commissioner responsible for fishing, Joseph Borg to draw to his attention the legal situation of the region, so that the agreement will only apply to the coastal regions of Morocco and not, as was the case in previous agreements, to those of Western Sahara. .[
Letter]
Raül Romeva i Rueda had already put a question along these lines to the Commission on 30 May 2005. In its reply of 5 July, the Commission declared that the agreement of association to be negotiated with Morocco would be applicable to the waters "under Moroccan sovereignty or jurisdiction". [
Pregunta a la Comisión por Raül Romeva i Rueda y Respuesta del 05.07.05]

07.07.05
The EU Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, declares that the conflict of Western Sahara should be resolved "within the framework of the United Nations". She expresses the hope that the UN will proceed rapidly to the appointment of a new special representative for the Sahara.

NATURAL RESOURCES

07.07.05, phosphate exploitation
The principal Norwegian financial paper, Dagens Næringsliv, announces on 5 July that the Yara International, leading world supplier of fertilizers, had allegedly illegally exported phosphates from Western Sahara since 1999 and risks being pursued in the courts...
Two days later, the company admits the facts and announces the end of its activities in Western Sahara. [
more]

INTERNET

NUEVO LIBRO: "Sahara Occidental: ¿hasta cuando?", AFAPREDESA, Asociación de Familiares de Presos y Desaparecidos Saharauis, 2005.

saharatik.com, una nueva publicacion online informativa sobre el conflicto del Sahara Occidental y sobre todo lo relacionado con la solidaridad vasca con la causa saharaui.

Charla (chat) con Mohamed Abdelaziz, Presidente de la República Árabe Saharaui Democrática, en el diario "El Mundo.es" 15 de Julio de 2005

OPINION

 

NEW PUBLICATIONS
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NUEVO LIBRO: "Sahara Occidental: ¿hasta cuando?", AFAPREDESA, Asociación de Familiares de Presos y Desaparecidos Saharauis, 2005.

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